American couple brutally assaulted in Ecuador

Two Americans spending a year in Ecuador were brutally attacked in the northern town of Esmereldas, according to a report from CNN. One of the victims, visiting Ecuador with his fiancée to celebrate their recent engagement, was reportedly stabbed 24 times, while his fiancée was beaten and sexually assaulted.

The couple has been blogging about their trip here , and this is what they had to say about the recent attack:

“Britt and I were brutally attacked last Thursday. His condition started out as very serious and has gradually gotten even more so. He is in intensive care following three surgeries, and before the last one, last night, I was informed by the head surgeon that there is no certainty that he will survive. That being said, he was conscious and talking last night, and I have continued to be amazed by his strength.” (punctuation added)

We here at Gadling wish the couple, who have flown back to the US for further treatment, nothing but the absolute best.

So, the traveler wonders, is Ecuador still safe? As someone who traveled in Ecuador for four months, I can attest that I never once threatened for my safety, but I also know that the area near the Ecuador-Colombia border is not exactly somewhere I’d like to raise kids.

But please remember that Ecuador is– along with the vast majority of travel destinations– still an incredibly safe place to visit. Unfortunately, we can never completely eliminate the risks associated with traveling in a foreign country (or with staying at home), but the smart traveler will stay abreast of the security situation, get the low-down from locals, and avoid spending time in dangerous areas, especially at night.

So maybe you don’t feel like visiting Ecuador just this second. When you change your mind, check out Gadling’s Guide to Ecuador here.

American Stabbed and Killed in Beijing

With the memory of a spectacular opening ceremony still in everyone’s mind, some news from the opposite end of the emotional spectrum came out of Beijing today. Two American tourists, a man and woman, and a local guide were attacked by a man carrying a knife.

The attack took place at the famous Drum Tower that sits above the hutong near Houhai Lake. The tour guide and the woman were injured, but their male companion was killed. The two Americans were relatives of a US volleyball coach.

The attacker, identified by Xinhua News Agency as Tang Yongming from the city of Hangzhou, jumped to his death off the second floor of the tower after the attack.

Such an event is almost unheard of in China. It is even more surprising because of heavy security throughout Beijing. Chinese authorities have expressed concern about terrorism and unauthorized protests in the lead-up to the Games, but crimes against tourists are usually limited to pickpocketing and price gouging.

This appears to have been a random attack. According to reports, the victims were not wearing anything that identified them as Americans.

The attack took place at noon Beijing time. The tower remains sealed off from the public as police investigate.

New York Times coverage of the attack

Great White Shark. San Diego coast. Not good.

Until this morning, it had apparently been some 14 years since the last great white shark attack off the coast of San Diego.

This morning, a 66-year-old swimmer in triathlon training was killed by a shark about 150 yards off Solana Beach, near San Diego, LA Times reports. Other swimmers apparently saw him actually being lifted out of the water and drug under and whey went to his aid and dragged him onto the beach. He was pronounced dead almost immediately.

Shark expert Richard H. Rosentblatt from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography said that based on descriptions of the attack and the wounds inflicted “this almost certainly was a great white shark.” A large one, too. 15-17 feet.

San Diego beaches will probably be not-so-popular for a while.